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UGC Pay hike in the backdrop of model code of conduct

The model code of conduct for elections may affect education minister Mr.Arjun Singh’s plans to announce a raise for university and college teachers by Diwali.

Top officials in the ministry went into a huddle today to discuss the likely delay amid fears that it could hurt the UPA in the elections.

Sources said, on October 8, Mr.Singh had asked his department to finalise the pay hikes proposed for over five lakh college and university teachers in time for Diwali.

But any announcement of a raise now may be described as a measure against the model code of conduct which is in force, officials said.

The model code came into effect when elections to five states — Delhi, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — were announced. It will remain in force till December 4, the last day of polling.

Mr.Singh was hauled up by the Election Commission in 2006 for promising OBC quotas in central higher education institutions just ahead of state polls that year. He is unlikely to risk a repeat, sources said.

A University Grants Commission pay panel headed by G.K. Chadha had earlier this month recommended pay hikes ranging from 75 per cent to over 100 per cent for teachers. The recommendations have been accepted by the UGC and the ministry is finalising them, the sources said.

“But now, even if we finalise the salary hikes, we will in all probability be unable to implement the raise till December 4,” a senior official said.

These concerns were debated at a late afternoon meeting of ministry officials under higher education secretary Mr.R.P. Agrawal, the sources said.

The promised raise will be valid not just for central university teachers but also for state-run colleges or universities recognised by the UGC.

Source : The Telegraph (15-10-2008)

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